Patients cut down on costly visits to doctors

The number of people visiting doctors at Greek state hospitals during afternoon hours that are set aside for private practice has dropped by 30 percent this year, compared to 2010, which could leave the hospitals about 20 million euros short by the end of the year.

Since 2001, state hospital doctors have been allowed to see private patients at public hospitals during the afternoons rather than at their own surgeries. In return, the hospitals get a cut of the doctors? extra earnings.

However, the economic crisis appears to be limiting the number of people willing to pay to see doctors in the afternoons. They received some 14,000 fewer visitors during the first four months of this year than in 2010, which has led to hospitals earning 15.5 million euros, which is 6 million less than during the same period last year.

It is a further blow to the public healthcare sector, which is struggling due to severe cost-cutting.

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